I have spoken before on the use of stabilizers for embroidery (see June 27,2021 blog): what kind to use for different materials, when to use it and why. Lately I have seen several online quilting videos that have talked about the need to stabilize appliques as they are applied to a quilting project and they all mentioned using printer paper as the stabilizer. For those of you who enjoy paper piecing projects, I’ll bet you can say why paper as a stabilizer might not be the best idea! Yes, it does a great job of creating a dull needle; fast. Stitching paper is exactly the same as using your best sewing shears to cut out paper valentines! Your needle dulls very quickly and needs to be changed often. The biggest problem, of course, with a dull needle is that it can create pulls in the fabric as you stitch and those pulls, like a run in a pair of pantyhose, will never be able to be fixed. Once a thread in the weave of a piece of fabric is pulled, it will always show. It really doesn’t take much time stitching paper to realize this needle dulling effect. If you are planning to use appliques in your next quilting project, I would like to suggest you use, instead of paper, tear away stabilizer when sewing your applique to your project. It doesn’t matter whether you are planning to use a straight stitch for a raw edge applique, blanket stitch, zig-zag or a decorative stitch to secure the applique. Using a tear away stabilizer will give you excellent results, in my experience.
Why use a stabilizer at all? If you have ever seen an applique that is wavy around the edges, not in a good way, you are looking at an applique that was not supported properly when it was being stitched to the project. Either the fabric stretched while it was being sewn or the stitch was too dense for the material used without using stabilizer. Now, I’m not referring only to appliques done with an embroidery machine. Embroiders need to use stabilizer every time they embroider. This suggestion is for all machine attached appliques whether that applique is on a garment, an item of home décor (such as a pillow) or on a quilting project of some type. If you are not a machine embroider, you may not have tear away stabilizer just lying around your house, but it is the least expensive of the stabilizers and is worth the investment in your project since tear away stabilizer is meant to be stitched. It doesn’t cause any problems for your machine or your needle. It tears away very easily (thus the name!) and creates a supported surface upon which the machine can stitch. I hope you will give this a try for your next applique project!